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Democracy Holds Again, But Only By a String

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 18, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 18, 2020 |


Two days ago, we found out from the Republican Secretary of State that Lindsey Graham tried to get a bunch of legally cast votes thrown out in Georgia. Basically, he asked — in counties with high rates of questionable signatures on ballots — that all the votes be thrown out in that county. We got very lucky that the Republican Secretary of State in Georgia actually cares about the integrity of the election and denied Graham’s request (a request that is apparently not illegal to make but is definitely unethical). It’s only a matter of time, however, a battleground state elects a Trump and/or Republican loyalist into the position of Secretary of State, who will listen to the pleas of someone like Graham. For instance, someone like the former Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who — believe it or not — is actually being blamed by Trump for conspiring with Stacey Abrams to deny Trump a win in the state.

Yesterday in Michigan, however, we found out exactly what might happen if Trump loyalists are put into positions of power over election results. Wayne County — home of Michigan’s largest city, Detroit — is a county that typically votes Democratic by overwhelming margins. In 2020, Joe Biden won about 68 percent of the vote in the county, helping to deliver the state of Michigan to the Democrat by around 150,000 votes (Democrats won in Wayne County by around 320,000 votes).

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, the Wayne County canvassers — who certify the results in that county — are comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans in a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1. In either case, those canvassers had to certify the results, and the two Republicans refused to do so, which could theoretically have led to a real big mess, where those results weren’t certified, which could have prevented the state from certifying the results, which could have led to the Republican legislature choosing the electors, which could have led to them giving the Electoral College votes to Trump in a state, again, where Biden won by a wide margin.

It would have been a huge longshot, mind you, that would have had to get past a number of legal challenges, and they would have had to convince the Republican legislature to overturn the will of the people, but the point is: Two bad-faith Trump loyalists in a heavily Democratic county could have really destroyed the integrity of the election in Michigan, which is exactly what Trump had wanted (and he praised to the two canvassers on Twitter last night):

Just about the time that Trump tweeted that, the two GOP canvassers finally relented and allowed the certification to go forward, but only after immense public pressure (and social media digging up racist Obama memes from the early 2010s on their Facebook pages). One of the GOP’ers had even gone so far as to suggest that she would certify the results for the entire county, except Detroit, which is 80 percent Black. That went over real well, as you might imagine. In this case, Democracy (and a lot of public and social media shaming) did work to pressure the Republicans to do the right thing, although Trump characterized it differently.

For the record, the Republicans’ major argument was that the count was “out of balance,” which both the GOP canvassers and Trump made a huge deal out of. The reality is that they were out of balance by 1 to 4 votes based on 134 counting boards, so even assuming it was 4 in every counting board, it might have resulted in an extra 536 votes in a county that Biden won by over 300,000 (the votes were similarly out of balance in the August primary, but the same board had no problem certifying the results then).

In any case, it was a tense few hours, and although losing Michigan alone would not have swung the election to Trump, it would have eroded public trust in the electoral system on the same day that Trump fired Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who rejected Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Trump is trying his damndest to destroy our Democracy so that he can hang on to power. He has failed at every turn, but that may have less to do with the integrity of our system and more to do with the incompetence of the supervillains trying to overturn the election.

The big question is: Is Trump an aberration, or is he a sign of what is to come? Biden’s top priority over the next four years — besides getting us through this pandemic — should be to shore up our electoral system, root out voter suppression, and fully restore America’s confidence in Democracy, otherwise, we may end up with a more competent Trump capable of snapping that last thread.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: nBC